Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/11/1997 09:09 AM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE April 11, 1997 9:09 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman Senator Loren Leman, Vice Chairman Senator Lyda Green Senator Jerry Ward MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Johnny Ellis COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 102 "An Act relating to the eligibility of aliens for state public assistance and medical assistance programs affected by federal welfare reform legislation; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED SB 102 OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 147(HES) am "An Act relating to the expenses of housing nonresident charter school students; relating to authorizing charter school programs to provide domiciliary and other services to nonresident charter school students; relating to duties of the state Board of Education; and relating to the establishment of state boarding schools." - MOVED CSHB 147(HES) am OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 134 "An Act relating to home schooling for elementary and secondary students." - MOVED CSSB 134(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 17 "An Act creating the crime of criminal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)." - MOVED SB 17 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 102 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 3/12/97. HB 147 - No previous Senate action to record. SB 134 - No previous Senate action to record. SB 17 - No previous Senate action to record. WITNESS REGISTER Representative Con Bunde State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of CSHB 147(HES) am. John Cyr, President NEA-AK 114 Second Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed concerns with CSHB 147(HES) am. Barbara Kangas PO Box 7635 Kenai, Alaska 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Expressed concern with the financing. Senator Leman State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of SB 134. Rachael Moreland, Staff Senator Leman State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed CSSB 134(HES). Mary Trimble, President Eagle River Chugiak Home School Association 19510 Third Street Eagle River, Alaska 99477 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on CSSB 134(HES). Julie Chase Valley Home Educators 851 W. Sheldon Road #3 Wasilla, Alaska 99654 POSITION STATEMENT: Appreciated CSSB 134(HES). Jamie Cox, Home Schooler Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 134. Ruth Ewig, Home Schooler Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 134 and SB 17. Sharon Smith Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Thanked the sponsors for SB 134 and supported SB 17. Lisa Sites, Home Schooler Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Encouraged support of SB 134 and supported SB 17. Sharylee Zachary, Home Schooler PO Box 1531 Petersburg, Alaska 99833 POSITION STATEMENT: Believed SB 134 would help clarify home schooling. Barbara Njaa, Home Schooler PO Box 8042 Nikiski, Alaska 99635 POSITION STATEMENT: Favored SB 134. Debbi Palm, Home Schooler HC1 Box 956 Kenai, Alaska 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported CSSB 134(HES). Mary & Dean Nichols, Home Schoolers 205 Birch Street Kenai, Alaska 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Encouraged passage of SB 134. Joanne Hardesty, Home Schooler HC01 Box 835 Kenai, Alaska 99611 POSITION STATEMENT: Encouraged the passage of anything favorable to home schooling. Gregory Reeser, Home Schooler 44120 McLean Court Soldotna, Alaska 99669 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported CSSB 134(HES). Claudia Walton PO Box 221166 Anchorage, Alaska 99522 POSITION STATEMENT: Asked questions. Nancy Buell, Director Division of Teaching & Learning Support Department of Education 810 W 10th Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: The department supported the clarification of home schooling. Tom Gordy, Associate Pastor Christian Coalition of Juneau PO Box 34832 Juneau, Alaska 99803 POSITION STATEMENT: Urged passage of SB 134. Jack Phelps, Vice President Alaska Private & Home Educators Association PO Box 23267 Ketchikan, Alaska 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 134. Joe Ambrose, Staff Senator Taylor State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed SB 17. Theda Pittman Alaska Civil Liberties Union PO Box 201844 Anchorage, Alaska 99520 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 17. Dr. John Middaugh, Chief Section of Epidemiology Department of Health & Social Services PO Box 240249 Anchorage, Alaska 99524-0249 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 17. Andrea Nenzel, Executive Director Alaska Native Assistance Association 1057 Fireweed Lane Anchorage, Alaska 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 17. Bonnie McCorquodale, Executive Director Interior AIDS Association Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Urged the rejection of SB 17. Carey Cummings Interior AIDS Association of Fairbanks Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 17. Andy Binkley Community Outreach Interior AIDS Association Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 17. Barbara Brink Alaska Public Defenders 900 W. 5th Avenue, #700 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed concerns with SB 17. Anne Carpeneti, Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division Department of Law PO Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed to SB 17. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-38, SIDE A SB 102 ALIENS AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS Number 001 CHAIRMAN WILKEN called the Senate Health, Education & Social Services Committee (HES) to order at 9:09 a.m. and introduced SB 102 as the first order of business. Chairman Wilken noted that Senate Finance would like to have SB 102 as part of the overall welfare reform as well as the budget. Chairman Wilken said that he would entertain a motion to move SB 102 out of committee. SENATOR LEMAN moved to report SB 102 out of committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. Without objection, it was so ordered. HB 147 STATE BOARDING SCHOOLS/CHARTER SCHOOLS CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced that CSHB 147(HES) am was the next order of business before the committee. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE , Prime Sponsor, informed the committee that Mt. Edgecombe is Alaska's only authorized boarding school which has earned an excellent academic reputation. Representative Bunde explained that CSHB 147(HES) am proposes to increase opportunities for state boarding schools in order to increase the quality of education, especially in rural Alaska. The boarding function of the boarding schools under this bill would not be funded by the state. He had heard from some communities, rural centers, that are interested in a boarding school program. There are a number of small schools in rural Alaska and as the foundation formulas move forward, the small schools will be encouraged to consolidate. The option of a boarding school should be available. CHAIRMAN WILKEN noted that the Superintendent of Galena had visited him and discussed the facility there. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE explained that the entire Air Force facility located in Galena is being kept in warm storage. The entire capital investment would be available for a school program. Representative Bunde noted that the Air Force is paying the water and sewage. Also a contractor with some 40 employees provides food service which would also be available to the students. Of course, Galena would like some additional state money to begin, but Representative Bunde believed that there are other sources. Number 135 JOHN CYR , President of NEA-AK, was concerned with the finances. If school districts decide to build boarding schools in rural Alaska, that is an expensive proposition. Someone will have to pay for the boarding of those students. Mr. Cyr stated that financing boarding schools are too expensive unless the money is taken from regular programs. Mr. Cyr suggested that this bill is similar to an unfunded non-mandate. Mr. Cyr also expressed concern with a statewide program being administered by a local school district. Currently, statewide programs such as Mt. Edgecombe are administered by the state, under the department and the State School Board. Mr. Cyr believed that process to be appropriate because the program is offered to all children of Alaska not just those in a local district. As written, CSHB 147(HES) am does not have a provision for that. Mr. Cyr expressed the need for state oversight in these programs. With regard to the concern over the lack of state oversight, REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE explained that if a boarding school were to be a charter school, that must be approved by the local school district and the state school board. In that event, there would be a level of state approval. BARBARA KANGAS , testifying from Kenai, was concerned with the language in Section 1 stating, "may not be paid for with state money but may be paid for with funds contributed by sources other than the state." Ms. Kangas informed the committee that her local school budget was cut by $2.2 million. The Kenai has a number of charter schools on line for next year. Ms. Kangas did not understand how funding for another program could be mandated when current programs cannot be funded. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said that CSHB 147(HES) am was permissive and did not mandate anything. SENATOR WARD noted that Galena has 180 days evacuation procedure. Senator Ward hoped that Galena would become a vocational training program for the rural Native population. Senator Ward identified the regional corporations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs for Native students which would offset some of the costs as in Wildwood. Senator Ward believed that this was an excellent concept and such should be provided as options for the local districts. SENATOR WARD moved to report CSHB 147(HES) am out of committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. Without objection, it was so ordered. SB 134 HOME SCHOOLING EDUCATION PROGRAM Number 233 CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced that SB 134 was the next order of business before the committee. SENATOR LEMAN , Prime Sponsor, informed the committee that this legislation was brought to his attention by those involved in home schooling in Alaska. SB 134 provides an exemption in the section regarding compulsory attendance. RACHAEL MORELAND , Staff to Senator Leman, informed the committee that there was a blank CS if the committee would like to adopt it for discussion purposes. SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt CSSB 134(HES). Without objection, it was so ordered. RACHAEL MORELAND read the following into the record: Senate Bill 134 adds a paragraph to the compulsory attendance policy (AS 14.30.010(b)), providing an exemption for children schooled at home by a parent or guardian. The original bill required students be instructed in: reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing, and English grammar. The new CS on the table deletes that language. Currently, are no specific provisions in Alaska Statutes pertaining to home schooled students. There are several ways current home schoolers comply with the law. Home schoolers in technical compliance are now required to follow provisions for Private and Exempt Schools (AS 14.45.100-130), or they may participate in a government-sponsored course (AS 14.45.010(b)(11)). Neither provision was designed with home schoolers in mind. SB 134 codifies current practice by many home schoolers. Families in which children are home schooled are numerous throughout the state and their numbers are growing quickly. It is time we acknowledge them by law. SB 134 recognizes the important contribution home schooling parents and students make to our state. SENATOR LEMAN asked how many students in Alaska are being home schooled. RACHAEL MORELAND pointed out that there is no one roster for home schooled students. There are various home schooling organizations throughout Alaska. Mr. Phelps could provide an idea of the numbers of home schooled students in Alaska. In further response to Senator Leman, Ms. Moreland noted that the committee packet includes information, a national survey from the Home School Legal Defense Association whose findings are reflected in Alaska. Ms. Moreland informed the committee of a recent reading competition in which many correspondence students won those competitions. Ms. Moreland informed the committee that she was home schooled, private schooled, public schooled, and co-op schooled. Ms. Moreland said that her home school experience was the highlight of her education besides her college experience. Home schooling allowed Ms. Moreland to graduate from high school earlier. Number 326 MARY TRIMBLE , President of Eagle River Chugiak Home School Association, informed the committee that she also answered the phones for Alaska Private and Home Educators Association. Ms. Trimble taught in public schools for six years and have home schooled for eight years. Ms. Trimble appreciated last year's home school resolution and CSSB 134(HES) is the next step. JULIE CHASE , representing Valley Home Educators, appreciated CSSB 134(HES). JAMIE COX , testifying from Fairbanks, supported SB 134 and encouraged its passage. Ms. Cox said that home schooling parents are committed and dedicated and involved in their children's lives. Furthermore, Ms. Cox suspected that home schooled students would score above public schooled students. Home schooled students tend to be polite and respectful. RUTH EWIG , testifying from Fairbanks, supported SB 134 because the state should recognize a successful educational alternative such as home schooling. Ms. Ewig stated that home schoolers believe in their God given mandate to train children into good, responsible, critically thinking adults. Home schoolers favor a traditional approach stressing academic subjects as specified in the bill. The 180 day public school requirement does not fit a home schoolers routine which varies. Further, home schoolers consider a subject complete when all the subject matter is completed, not by the number of days spent on the subject. Ms. Ewig stated that home schooling is successful locally and nationwide while public schooling continues to decline. SHARON SMITH , testifying from Fairbanks, thanked those responsible for SB 134. She said that there are many reasons why people choose to home school their children. Ms. Smith was concerned with education and believed that every day was an education. LISA SITES , Leader of the Interior Home School Association and past Leader of the North Slope Support Group, informed the committee that when her family began home schooling she believed that home schooling could offer her children the best education available. Six years later and three children later and Ms. Sites is even more convinced of that belief. Ms. Sites noted that not every home schooler is registered through the state, but last year approximately 1,900 home schooled students were in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Home schooling is a viable alternative. It is estimated that there are about 1.2 million home schoolers across the nation and most home schoolers score well above average. Ms. Sites reiterated comments regarding the scheduling of home schoolers. Ms. Sites encouraged the support of SB 134. In response to Senator Leman, Ms. Sites clarified that the 1,900 home schoolers refers only to the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The number was derived from those listed with the Department of Education in Juneau as private and religious schools as well as the correspondence figures for the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Alyeska Central School. That number was relevant only up to January 1996. Number 456 SHARYLEE ZACHARY informed the committee that she would be faxing her and her husband's written testimony. Petersburg has about 45 home schooled children, although Ms. Zachary suspected that the surrounding islands also had home schooled children. Ms. Zachary said that her children are home schooled because there are certain things that are no longer taught in public schools that Ms. Zachary desired her children to learn. Furthermore, teachers have their hands full. Ms. Zachary indicated that her choice to home school her children helps alleviate the burden of the public school teacher. Children were learning to be callous and defensive. Ms. Zachary wanted to raise her children as part of the healing of the nation not as part of the problem. Ms. Zachary informed the committee that the Petersburg public school does not allow home schoolers to participate in some of its activities and services. Ms. Zachary was told that home schooled students were not allowed to check out books from the public school library nor can the home schooled students read material in the public school library. Ms. Zachary pointed out that her tax dollars helped purchase such items, yet her children are not allowed to utilize them. After being informed that this was policy, Ms. Zachary contacted the school district and was told that there are no policies for home schoolers. On the other hand, two home schooled boys were allowed to wrestler for the public school. This is confusing. Ms. Zachary said that chemistry and foreign language labs, even if charged a fee, would be easier to utilize in the public school. SB 134 would clarify the position of home schoolers. SENATOR LEMAN was troubled by Ms. Zachary's experience and noted that similar situations have been experienced in the Anchorage School District. Representative Dyson has introduced legislation to deal with that situation. Most school districts do cooperate with home and private schooling parents. Senator Leman pointed out that when home schooled or private schooled students participate in the public school system, the foundation formula compensates for that. Senator Leman recommended that Ms. Zachary share her experiences with Representative Dyson. All students in the state should have access to library materials and special courses. SHARYLEE ZACHARY stressed that she was not present to fight the public schools, but wanted to aid in the best education of all children in Alaska. Number 530 BARBARA NJAA , testifying from Kenai, informed the committee that she was a certified teacher with Alaska and that she home schooled her son for 10.5 years. There are a number of home schoolers in the area who are in favor of the exemption for home schoolers in SB 134. Ms. Njaa's son entered the local high school as a Junior and has not had any problems. Ms. Njaa noted that she enjoyed home schooling due to her son and other home schooled children who are able to relate to their peers as well as adults. Ms. Njaa has been a home school supervisor for a local private school which afforded her the opportunity to meet parents who home school with whom she was impressed. DEBBI PALM , a Home Schooling parent in Nikiski, noted that she too was a certified teacher who taught in the public schools and worked with the correspondence program. Ms. Palm supported SB 134; it is a viable option. MARY NICHOLS , Home Schooling mother, said that she was in favor of SB 134 and the amendment included in the CS which would strike the language dealing with an organized educational program. Ms. Nichols did, with the original language, see the potential for a bureaucrat to verify compliance with the requirements and could lead to further interference. Ms. Nichols believed that parents are capable of determining the curriculum of their children without any regulations. The home schooling families that Ms. Nichols knew were very committed. Ms. Nichols discussed the high scores of her home schooled children. Ms. Nichols encouraged passage of the bill. DEAN NICHOLS , Home Schooling father, informed the committee that he also represented the First Baptist Church of Kenai which has several home schooling families. With regard to the concern surrounding socialization of home schooled students, home schooled children are some of the most well adjusted and respectful children. JOANNE HARDESTY , Home Schooler, said that she had been home schooling for about six years. Ms. Hardesty noted that her children had taken the SAT twice and scored high. The first year Ms. Hardesty home schooled, Ms. Njaa provided oversight on a monthly basis. Ms. Hardesty encouraged the passage of anything favorable to home schooling. TAPE 97-38, SIDE B GREGORY REESER , Home Schooler, supported SB 134 as well as the language deletion encompassed in the CS. This bill will elevate home schooling from a policy level to legal protection under the law. This bill will clarify the relationship home schoolers have with the Department of Education, the public school, and parents. SENATOR WARD concurred with the elimination of the language that could allow the bureaucrats to become involved in home schooling. Senator Ward noted that he had received all the letters and information forwarded to him on this issue. He applauded the efforts of those to better the community. SENATOR LEMAN applauded the Administration's cooperation in this effort. Senator Leman noted that the fiscal note from the Department of Education says that the department does not intend to regulate home schoolers. Number 563 CLAUDIA WALTON inquired as to the changes encompassed in the CS. SENATOR LEMAN explained that the last two lines of the bill were deleted. The language "and is receiving an organized educational program that includes reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing, and English grammar" were deleted. CLAUDIA WALTON inquired as to the definition of "home" and indicated that "home" be defined in a broad context meaning in the custody of the parents. Anything that can secure this educational opportunity is beneficial. SENATOR LEMAN interpreted "home" not to just refer to the domicile, but rather the home unit. NANCY BUELL , Director of the Division of Teaching & Learning Support, stated that the Department of Education supports clarifying and helping parents who choose to school their children. Ms. Buell noted the unpleasant position of being in "limbo" with regard to the distinction between home school and public schooled children. With regard to the language that has been deleted in the CS, the department believes that all children should learn basic skills and anything to that effect in the bill would be supported by the department. Ms. Buell reiterated that the department does not intend to regulate home schoolers in any way and noted that many districts provide support for home schooling parents, even in the form of home school coordinators. The department believes that to be an appropriate use of the money following the child. Number 505 In response to Senator Ward, Ms. Buell was not aware of any policy that would prohibit a home schooled student from utilizing a public school library. She reiterated that many districts provide the option for home schooled students to take part in specialized classes and such. In terms of practice, Ms. Buell could not say what actually occurs. If there is a concern, the home schooling parents should bring that before the local school board. In response to Chairman Wilken, Ms. Buell agreed that the CS would not change the fiscal note; the fiscal note would remain zero. CHAIRMAN WILKEN inquired as to how the progress of home schooled students is measured. NANCY BUELL said that the department is not measuring the progress of home schooled students. If home schoolers register as a private school, progress is recorded and measured by tests. When registered as a private school, the home schooler is given exempt status which allows the student to keep the school records. If home schooling is an exemption to the compulsory schooling law, there would be no way to know the home schooled student's progress. In further response to Chairman Wilken, Ms. Buell said that a child can be home schooled for his/her entire education, but will not receive a diploma. TOM GORDY , Christian Coalition in Juneau, informed the committee that he was an Associate Pastor to a local church which has many home schoolers. Mr. Gordy identified the following advantages to home schooling: The one to one student teacher ratio allows for quicker learning. The home schooled student can learn at his/her own pace. Parents can monitor and choose the curriculum and its content. Constant monitoring of the student's progress can occur. Alleviates concerns/problems from negative peer pressure. Mr. Gordy stated that home schooling should be held in the same regard as public or private education. Mr. Gordy urged the passage of this measure with full recommendations. Number 427 JACK PHELPS , Vice President of the Alaska Private & Home Educators Association (APHEA), explained that APHEA is a nonprofit education cooperation serving the home school community in Alaska. Currently, APHEA has a membership of 450 home schooling families throughout Alaska. Mr. Phelps referred to Robert Neismith's book entitled Megatrends which mentions home schooling as part of society's trend towards decentralization and increased personal responsibility. Estimates report that 2.5 million American children are being educated by their parents. Home taught children are widely recognized as well educated and socially adjusted people and are now sought by many of the best colleges and universities. Mr. Phelps pointed out that Michigan and Arizona have codified the role of home schools in the range of educational options. SB 134 is patterned after the law passed in Michigan last year. Mr. Phelps noted that the Legislature passed SCR 24 last year without a dissenting vote which placed the Legislature on record as asserting the importance of home schooling in Alaska. The APHEA Board of Directors supports SB 134. Alaska parents who teach their children at home contribute to Alaska's society by preparing children for the full range of work force opportunities at no cost to the state. Mr. Phelps noted that he submitted written testimony. SB 134 is good public policy. In response to Chairman Wilken, Mr. Phelps informed the committee that he home taught four children all the way through high school. Mr. Phelps named his home school and issued a diploma. The Home School Legal Defense Association offers a diploma that parents can fill out. With regards to that being an impediment to further progress in education or the work force, that has not occurred in his situation. Mr. Phelps pointed out that three of his children attended college. When his son applied to Hillsdale, there was not a problem. Hillsdale requested that his son take the college entrance exam and that a list of subjects and textbooks that his son studied be supplied. SENATOR LEMAN commented that he had not home schooled his children, but was impressed with the commencement exercise he attended for APHEA a few years ago. The commencement included a subject demonstration from K-12. SENATOR LEMAN moved to report CSSB 134(HES) out of committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. Without objection, it was so ordered. The committee took a brief at ease from 10:19 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. SB 17 CRIMINAL TRANSMISSION OF HIV Number 346 CHAIRMAN WILKEN introduced SB 17 as the last order of business before the committee. JOE AMBROSE , Staff to Senator Taylor, read the following Sponsor Statement into the record: Senate Bill 17 was introduced with the goal of putting Alaska in a pro-active position when it comes to dealing with individuals who knowingly place others at risk of HIV infection. SB 17 is intended to be preventative as well as punitive and is intended to render a criminal rather than moral judgement. As of December 31, 1996, 369 Alaskans had been confirmed to have AIDS. That's since tracking began in 1982. Of these cases, 194 are known to have died. The Epidemiology section of the Division of Public Health reports that as of December 31, 1996, 640 Alaskans had tested positive for HIV infection. That number represents only those who have voluntarily tested through the State Section of Laboratories. The statistics show that HIV/AIDS affects both male and female, across all age groups and without respect to race or residence. The sad fact is that the rate or infection in Alaska is increasing. If someone intentionally sets out to kill another person by infecting them with the AIDS virus, they can be charged under state law with attempted first degree murder. But, what do we do with the person who does not "intend" to kill, but who still places others in jeopardy? In 1990, the Attorney General's office reviewed that question and suggested that ...quote..."it might be possible to prosecute the person for reckless endangerment"... end quote. That is a class A misdemeanor prohibiting reckless conduct which create a "substantial risk of serious physical injury". Most people would equate becoming infected with HIV as something more than a "serious injury". Twenty seven other states have seen fit to adopt specific laws dealing with criminal penalties for knowingly transmitting or exposing another to HIV infection. It would only be prudent for Alaska to have such a statute on the books. SB 17 is brief and to the point. It creates the crime of criminal transmission of HIV and covers actions and conduct known to transmit the disease. The bill also provides an affirmative defense when the person exposed knows beforehand that the action could result in infection. The bill also provides a provision excluding perinatal transmission of the virus and to assure that an individual is not prosecuted for an involuntary act. SB 17 is not intended to punish those who have contracted HIV. It is intended to protect others who may be unknowingly exposed to the virus by what should be a criminal act of irresponsibility. Mr. Ambrose informed the committee that in drafting SB 17, the Illinois statute was used almost verbatim which was adopted in 1989. He noted that the Illinois statute was included in the committee packet as well as a summary of the laws passed in other states. The committee packet also includes two court rulings on the Illinois law. On April 6, 1994 the Illinois Supreme Court held that the statute did not violate state or federal constitutional protections for free speech or for free association and was not unconstitutionally vague. Number 287 With regard to the impact on HIV testing in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Health reported that after the law was on the books for six years, testing for HIV/AIDS had increased not decreased. This year the Illinois Department of Health reported a decrease in public testing which was attributed to the increased availability of testing in the private sector as well as home testing. The Alaska Department of Health reported that the majority of cases resulted in consensual conduct. Mr. Ambrose asked if consent would have been given if the facts were known first. SB 17 merely places the responsibility on the infected person to advise the other person involved. THEDA PITTMAN , Alaska Civil Liberties Union, said that ACLU opposed SB 17 on constitutional grounds and the bill would undermine the efforts of the public health system. HIV transmission is a public health problem not a criminal problem. Anyone with a transmittable disease should understand how to avoid infecting others and utilize the appropriate precautions. In the rare instances when an individual recklessly or intentionally transmits HIV, Alaska law already provides the opportunity for prosecution. Therefore, this language will not add to the prosecutor's tools, but will likely decrease voluntary testing and the education management which typically accompanies testing and notification. Ms. Pittman pointed out that on page 2, lines 11-13 and lines 1-5 raise due process concerns regarding whether the state is providing adequate notice to prohibited behavior. The language on lines 1-5 regarding the affirmative defense shifts the burden of proof to the defendant as well as suggesting that the defense must seek information about the person allegedly exposed that would otherwise be confidential. Ms. Pittman stated that it made little sense to add a new law when the current law contains adequate provisions. Ms. Pittman urged the committee's opposition to SB 17. Number 241 DR. JOHN MIDDAUGH , Chief of the Section of Epidemiology in DHSS, opposed SB 17. The existing laws enable criminal prosecution and punishment of egregious behaviors of intentional transmission of HIV. Passage of SB 17 will discourage testing and participation in efforts to identify those who have potentially been exposed. Public health has had experience over many decades that illustrate that criminalization of infections harms the public health efforts to control disease transmission. Diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, the Herpes virus are more likely to be transmitted in the conducts associated with the transmission of HIV. Dr. Middaugh was also concerned about the definition of "intimate contact" which is so broad and could extend to many common activities that pose no risk for disease transmission of HIV or other pathogens. Sports, health care, EMT activity, etc. could fall under the definition of "intimate contact". Dr. Middaugh pointed out that the title of SB 17 reads, "An act creating the crime of criminal transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)" yet the bill has provisions that show that transmission is not required for criminalization of a potential exposure. Exposure is only when a person has contact with the virus regardless of whether the virus actually infects another person. In most exposures to HIV, no transmission or infection of the exposed person occurs. Dr. Middaugh emphasized that the department is concerned about HIV and the department's efforts are aimed at the prevention of transmission and spread of the disease. SB 17 will harm preventive and public health efforts and therefore, Dr. Middaugh requested that SB 17 not be passed. CHAIRMAN WILKEN noted the presence of Anne Carpeneti, Department of Law, and Barbara Brink, Alaska Public Defenders. ANDREA NENZEL , Executive Director of the Alaska Native Assistance Association, explained that the Alaska Native Assistance Association is a private nonprofit group which provides direct services to persons living with HIV infection and provides education and behavior changes for the prevention of HIV infection. The Alaska Native Assistance Association Board and Agency are adamantly opposed to SB 17. SB 17 will deter efforts to prevent further HIV infection in Alaska by discouraging testing while promoting further ignorance and discrimination. Testing and appropriate counseling and care regarding responsible behavior to prevent transmission is the most effective way to reduce HIV transmission. Ms. Nenzel reiterated that the existing law provides adequate means to prosecute and punish anyone who intentionally or recklessly transmits HIV. SB 17 will open the door to numerous suits and the bill is fraught with potential for abuse by unhappy partners or people with grudges. Ms. Nenzel echoed the comments regarding the shift of the burden of proof of innocence on the accused person. Ms. Nenzel urged the committee to vote against SB 17. Number 164 BONNIE MCCORQUODALE , Executive Director of the Interior AIDS Association, urged the committee to reject SB 17 and any other effort to criminalize HIV transmission. Ms. McCorquodale has worked in the HIV prevention field for almost 10 years. The prevention of the spread of HIV is a public health issue not a issue that can or should be addressed by the criminal justice system. Sound public health policy encourages testing, notification of partners, treatment, and knowledge about the protection of others. SB 17 will discourage testing and other potential life-saving services. HIV is preventable and persons can protect against it. SB 17 only holds a portion of the population responsible. Ms. McCorquodale informed the committee that the Secretary of Health & Social Services and the National Institutes of Health confirmed that syringe exchange programs reduce the spread of HIV. The language in the bill which makes the exchange of nonsterile equipment a crime may work against one of the most effective methods for reducing HIV in Alaska. Ms. McCorquodale emphasized that SB 17 is discriminatory and creates a criminal class based on health status and would set prevention efforts back years. CAREY CUMMINGS , Interior AIDS Association of Alaska, opposed SB 17. Ms. Cummings said that effective public policy encourages people to make healthy individual choices and does not prohibit, limit, or prosecute on the basis of biological behavior. SB 17 is not prevention. By criminalizing the exchange of nonsterile intravenous drug use equipment, those people utilizing such programs could be prosecutable. Such criminalization would increase the nonsterile intravenous needles on the street as well as increasing the likelihood of the transmission of the virus. Ms. Cummings encouraged the committee to reject SB 17 because of its discriminatory nature. ANDY BINKLEY, Community Outreach Worker with the Interior AIDS Association, opposed SB 17 because it treats HIV transmission different from other diseases which could be just as life threatening. Mr. Binkley opposed the intravenous drug paraphernalia language which seems headed in the wrong direction. BARBARA BRINK, Director, Alaska Public Defender Agency, was concerned with using criminal laws to promote public health instead of using testing, education, and behavior modification. Ms. Brink assured the committee that Alaska laws are already sufficiently available to prosecute any person who either intentionally or recklessly transmits the HIV virus. She disagreed with the 1980 assessment that one can only be charged with reckless endangerment. The Alaska assault statutes vary with regard to what one can be charged with based both on the person's state of mind, whether the action was intentional, reckless, or negligent, and on the result of that conduct. Reading from the assault in the first degree statute, Ms. Brink clarified that a person commits assault if the person knowingly engages in conduct that results in serious physical injury to another under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Someone who engages in that type of behavior can be prosecuted for assault in the first degree - or assault in the second degree, if a person recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person. The Alaska Criminal Code is based on the Oregon Criminal Code which recently was successful in prosecuting someone when the person engaged in such intentional behavior. Number 045 Ms. Brink expressed concern with how broadly the statue is drafted. The broad definition of "intimate contact" makes unlawful not only unsafe sex, but safe sex. There is no provision for reasonable prophylactic measures - something education efforts have been trying to encourage. A person playing basketball, for instance, who incurs a bleeding wound could be charged unless he/she could prove that he/she informed everyone of his/her HIV positive status and that the people willingly assumed that risk. The meaning of reasonable efforts to inform medical personnel is unclear. Given universal precautions, this seems an unnecessary addition. With regard to the nonsterile paraphernalia provision, needle exchange programs have been proven to be very effective. Alaska has been chosen to receive a national grant to study the effect which she believed would come to a halt because people would be liable for turning in used and nonsterile needles. Ms. Brink was concerned with the shifting of the presumption of innocence. Normally going to trial with a criminal charge, one is presumed to be innocent, but in this case to prove that the person knowingly engaged in that conduct is an impossible task. TAPE 97-39, SIDE A Ms. Brink said that the American Bar Association has considered using criminal laws to try to curb the transmission of HIV and actively adopted a resolution to discourage that. A program of public education about HIV should be implemented as the most effective method of deterring behavior which poses a high risk of transmitting HIV. SENATOR LEMAN pointed out the definition for "intimate contact" on page 2. He believed at basketball games it was policy to identify those players who are carrying HIV which would be covered in the subparagraph about intimate contact. BARBARA BRINK agreed that in such organizations and circumstances as the NBA, precautions have been taken, but "any contact" is so broad and would not be limited to the NBA or NCAA. What if there was a car accident, more than one person was injured, there's bodily fluids, and the people in the car the person has been riding with have not been notified. It is not limited to only sexual contact. SENATOR LEMAN doubted that anyone voluntarily engaging in intimate contact would be in a car accident. RUTH EWIG strongly supported SB 17 because the person who had irresponsibly spread the deadly disease to another was held accountable. Ms. Ewig informed the committee of a newspaper article about a person who called an ambulance for a friend. The caller withheld the information about the friend's AIDS infection and mouth to mouth was performed by the ambulance attendant on the AIDS infected person. SHARON SMITH testified in favor of SB 17 because it makes a person accountable for spreading a deadly disease. Testing for HIV should be mandatory. Number 127 LISA SITES testified in favor of SB 17. There is so much information available on social issues, but it is not really working. Ms. Sites believed that our society has laws to protect people when others do not take personal responsibility. ANNE CARPENETTI, Department of Law, reiterated the department's opposition to SB 17. The Administration does not take the position that HIV is not a serious disease nor a serious problem. The Administration has compassion for the people who are suffering from the disease. The Administration believes that the best way to deal with HIV is through a public health effort. Our criminal laws do cover the conduct in question. SENATOR WARD moved to pass SB 17 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN WILKEN adjourned the meeting at 10:55 a.m.